A gap in the North East’s written history will be filled with the launch of a new book on Sunday.
Squatters, Selectors and Settlers: Pioneering Districts of Dederang, Gundowring and Mongans Bridge represents years of research by two family historians Dulcie Stiff and Mary Cardwell.
Mrs Cardwell has lived in the region for many years while Mrs Stiff, now of Wodonga, is a former resident.
“Mary and I are from ancestors who have been up there in the valley for over 150 years,” Mrs Stiff said.
“Really, there’s nothing much been written about that area before.
“We thought ‘Well, let’s go, we’ve got to do something about it while we’re around and we know these things’.
“Our aim was to preserve the history of the district for future generations and it’s a story of hope, resilience and pioneering spirit.”
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Using material supplied by 150 people, the book documents the life of early pioneers from 1830 to 1960.
The prospect of gold brought numbers to the North East originally but then “the gold dwindled out and they went looking for somewhere to settle”.
From many countries, with varied skills and occupations, they came seeking a new life. Farming grew, methods and machinery developed and residents shared an active sporting and social life.
“There was something always happening, there were debutante balls, there was a ball or a dance after every football game, the activities were just very alive in that community,” Mrs Stiff recalled.
At least 200 people are expected to attend Sunday’s function at Dederang Hotel where Tangambalanga identity Peter Croucher will unveil the work.
A slide show of photos collected during the authors’ research will be displayed. Dederang Union Church provided funds to publish the book while proceeds will go to cancer research.
Mrs Stiff said quite a few copies of Squatters, Selectors and Settlers had already sold, with the community supportive throughout.
“People freely gave information and photos, it was just absolutely amazing what we came across,” she said.
“Many of the descendants of the pioneers remain there today … six generations, a lot of them.”
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